Right now, as I type this, I am sucked into a marathon Michael Jackson music video retrospective on VH-1.
I am on hour #4. I am officially middle aged. And I am helpless to resist the lure of Billie Jean.
Honestly, I didn’t think that much about his passing on Thursday. On the one hand I was totally shocked to get the series of breaking news alerts in quick succession -- first cardiac arrest, then coma, then dead -- and on the other hand, I wasn’t surprised at all.
Over the years, he certainly taught us to expect the unexpected.
His life had been… questionable. Actually, that’s an understatement. He passed quirky and eccentric miles ago. Jacko was bat-shit crazy. But his musical talent is undeniable. Does that excuse his behavior, alleged or observed? I don’t think so. But hopefully his songs will be his legacy.
Here are my 10 faves:
1979 - Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
1979 - Rock With You
1983 - Beat It (also love Fall Out Boy’s version featuring John Mayer)
1983 - Billie Jean
1983 - Human Nature
1983 - PYT (Pretty Young Thing)
1983 - Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
1984 - Thriller
1988 - Man in the Mirror
1988 - Smooth Criminal (also love Alien Ant Farm’s version)
Each one of these songs has some great memory tied to it, and instantly takes me back to growing up in NJ. It was the ‘80s, I had (really) big hair, my beloved Ronnie was in office, and all was good in my world.
Watching these videos that span a 40-year career, particularly The Jackson Five with 10-year-old Michael performing “I Want You Back” and “ABC” on American Bandstand, makes me so sad. It’s probably how my parents felt when they heard about Elvis. One of my college roommates used to call MJ “magic.” And I guess he was. While he WAS the King of Pop, he was very clearly also the King of Pain.
I hope he rests in peace.